“I’m not being unsociable, I’m working…”

I’m finding one of my better moves has been pulling together a combination of the iPad, a bluetooth keyboard, and a word processor app that can be shifted into a standard Word document.

The convenience of the iPad means it’s easy to get sudden ideas into written form almost immediately. A laptop is now, actually, “awkward.” No longer do you need to be tethered to a desktop PC (thank goodness). And a typewriter? What’s that?


As we know swiping and tapping is now commonplace both at home and in public. Yesterday, I got the core of a chapter down in about half an hour. I did so while having a coffee at my in-laws’ kitchen table.

I’m sure you have family who are much the same: current technology sometimes baffles them. Bank cards and pins are fine; but my father-in-law – a bank manager who retired some two decades ago – still occasionally wants “to speak to the top man” at the branch. (Bless him, he was born probably about three decades too late.) Sky satellite is okay too; but they are also probably among the last of the breed in which operating the TV remote can still present a challenge. (Don’t even mention Sky Plus.) Their shared mobile phone (a Nokia, c. 2004) is lying around somewhere and possibly usable (assuming they haven’t lost about the 12th charger); but it’s never on, and forget leaving a voice mail (it will probably never be retrieved), and even resorting separately to leaving a message on the landline will likely prove problematic. (“It’s doing that beeping dial tone again. It’s been doing that for weeks now. Do I press, uh, that 1571 now?”)

So you never quite know what will prove a tech stumbling block. They know of the internet of course: you can buy things on it. But their kids and grandkids are the ones who actually have to make the online purchases on their behalf. “Oh, isn’t that marvelous,” my mother-in-law is apt to remark, pleased, when shown airline tickets just bought online, or the Amazon purchase that will arrive the next day, or the lottery ticket numbers played.

On another day, all of that experience has been forgotten, and we have to start all over again. Have you seen Groundhog Day? While watching TV, seeing us around her on tablets or iPhones, the disdain in her voice is unmistakeable:

“What is on those things you’re all so fascinated by? How did we ever live without them?”

Usually I leave the retort to my wife. However, if I desire to feel ridiculous, I may actually try to meet the challenge and attempt to explain…. again:

“You managed as everyone always has, but not as efficiently. It took longer to do everything. Right now I’m flicking through about ten newspapers at once. And CNN. [I stand up, walk over and show her the iPad.] And here’s the BBC. Here’s France 24. I’ve got my manuscript open here. [I then tap that so she can see it.] There’s lots more. Being chained to a desk and a landline is over for many; that’s how your sons work from home now and then. [I return to my sofa seat.] In most jobs you can’t cope today without technology. The world of a bank manager having his secretary typing out paper memos is gone.”

Still, I often get a puzzled look in return:

“We can’t handle all of this change. We’re old. How do all of your brains not hurt? Robert, when you go out, would you please stop in at the newsagent and buy me a newspaper?”

By that, she obviously means the newspaperliterally.

I hope you’re having a good weekend, wherever you may be. 🙂